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The Role of a CFO

The role of a CFO has changed over time. And over time their job has become more challenging and more demanding. A CFO or a chief financial officer is a position that is always under a lot of pressure to cut costs and grow revenue. Their job is constantly being challenged by various factors such as economic uncertainty and new regulations.

What is a CFO or a chief financial officer?

A CFO is part of the C-suite, alongside the COO and just below the CEO or Chief Executive Officer. They are usually among the top three positions in a company. The CFO is responsible for all the finance activities of a company, from planning to implementing and managing. This includes everything from planning and keeping track of the company cash flow to maintaining investor and partner relations. They are always analyzing the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses so that they can plan the course of recovery for the company in the case of challenges.

All of this requires the CFO to wear many hats. These are some of the skills a CFO is required to have;

  • Communication skills so that they are able to convey and explain clearly their plans, strategy, and course of action for various actions.
  • Keen leadership skills in order to be able to manage the entire financial aspect of a company. They must be able to guide and steer the business in the right direction while working with other leaders of the company.
  • Adept financial assessment skills to keep up with regulations and legal requirements to mitigate risk.
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of company operations. They are required to fully understand the company’s business model as well as the industry they are in to be able to control and predict the outcome of business decisions to an extent.
  • An understanding of a global perspective, either through academics or international exposure so as to have a wider, more informed perspective and better understand emerging markets.

Earlier CFOs managed the books and records of the company, made financial reports, and ensured the upkeep of taxation processes, regulations, and requirements. Today, the CFOs job is far more nuanced and demanding.

A CFO is responsible for –

  • Leading and managing the finance and accounting team.
  • Establishing how the company manages income and expenses.
  • Overseeing and approving budgets and the preparation of financial reports.
  • Undertaking financial forecasting and planning for the company.
  • Acting as a financial advisor for business propositions, investments, and funding.
  • Developing and proposing financial strategies to the CEO and/or president to contribute to the overall strategy of the company, and then executing and managing them.
  • Establishing professional relationships with other company leaders as well as stakeholders.
  • Drive the company towards success with their financial expertise.

Unlike the role of a CEO or a COO, the role of a CFO requires certain qualifications. Adequate work experience is a must since this is a very senior position. Preference sways towards the commercial and operational functions. Academically, a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or economics is mandatory. Of course higher academic qualifications are also preferred, such as an MBA, CA, or CPA.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) salary in India and US

Although the CFO functions under the CEO, their salary is usually higher than that of the CEO. The average base salary of a CFO in the United States is USD134,563 per year according to an Indeed survey conducted in early February 2021. On the other hand, according to a PayScale survey, the average base salary for a CFO in India is ₹3,541,126 per year.

A requirement in order to become a CFO is a an MS in Finance like the Global Master of Science in Finance (Global MS in Finance) from the Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management. The program is designed to prepare you for some of the more sought-after career opportunities in global financial institutions such as, asset managers, consulting firms, investment and corporate banks, brokerage firms, financial data providers, ratings firms, hedge funds, venture capitalists, insurance companies, fintech, and more at Fortune 500 companies.


With increasingly uncertain markets and economies around the world, the already challenging role of a CFO has grown even more challenging over time. This makes this position have a high attrition and turnover rate, as well as high respectability and compensation.

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